“I am home,” Redmond said.
“Are you out of your mind? We didn’t find your body. It was insane. The children were concerned. What were you thinking?” Yvonne said.
“I was getting used to my body. It’s been a week since I moved my body. I needed a jog. And you were sleeping. Let’s get in the shower. It’s been too long,” Redmond said.
“The children are listening. Would you mind?” Yvonne said.
“I know. It’s crazy. This has happened for the first time. This was a week. I was 3000 miles away. The things I went through. I didn’t even speak their tongue,” Redmond said.
“Slow down. What are you talking about? And…Alice, get ready for school. Help Eve as well. I will get breakfast,” Yvonne said.
“Let us discuss later. The kids need to get ready. And I need a shower. How about right now?” Redmond said.
Redmond switched to un hombre in Spain. That’s a long way off from his home. He tried all he could think of to get back to his body. Maybe the distance was keeping him away for so long. This was difficult for him and his family. It was difficult for the family of Fernando as well. The old hombre couldn’t see. His family was supportive and thought that he was losing his mind. It was good to have a family away from home. They made him feel at ease with himself even when he thought he was in hell.
There are times when one does things that one may regret later. One stands for the family and takes unprecedented risks. It may be suicidal. This was such a time and the elders were hell-bent on taking the risk of their lives.
What followed was massive bloodshed. Cries of pain echoed throughout the village. The children left behind shivered in terror. Their fate left hanging with the imminent death of their parents.
Ronald and Randy stood still. They were clueless about the next move. Will the monster come to have them? Will the children be taken like they used to? The uncertainty was killing the village chief from inside.
It was quiet all of a sudden. No sound came from afar. The cries stopped. Ronald wanted to know what happened. He took Randy to the cave.
They found blood all around the cave. It was a battlefield. Blood was shed only on one side. There was no sign of the beast. Maybe, he was sick of the hues and cries. Maybe, he was sick of the killing. Maybe, he needed new meat to devour. Maybe, he was gone for good.
There were tears in Randy’s eyes. He lost his brother and his wife. What would he say to his nephew and niece? He went down on his knees and cried. It was over. The village was reduced to two men and a handful of children.
“This is insanity! Come on, folks. We need to stick together. Where is the brotherhood?” Randy said.
“It is all right for you to say that we sacrifice. For sacrifice, we shall not. Give in, we shall not. We shall stand together and kill the beast. Now, who’s with me?” Gerard said.
A wave of arms went high. It was difficult to tell one from another. All were wearing the same rugged fiber they got from the neighborhood. Their blue sleeves made them seem united for a cause.
“That’s all right! If you wish so, it is fine. Go ahead and do what you want… I won’t be a part. I will get back to work. What can one extra hand do? If you believe you are enough, that’s good enough for me,” Ronald said.
“No, you shall come with us. You shall lead,” Gerard said.
“I can’t help myself here. I won’t bring myself to see bloodshed, to see my brothers dying in front of me. I won’t stand and watch the massacre. I won’t,” Ronald said.
“Then so be it. Let’s leave. For we must kill while the sun is still out. This will give us an edge,” Gerard said.
Gerard led the way to the cave where the beast resides. All went with him except Ronald and Randy. These two knew what was at stake here and what was about to happen. It would be a bloody hell out there. The massacre would be tremendous to an appalling level. The devil will win. The villagers will perish one by one. The children left behind will lose their parents. Life will become worse for them. Now, there is no stopping to this insanity. There is no future for the village.
It was the last day of the week. It was the day the villagers decide their children’s fate. To give or be taken. This was the most puzzling problem the villagers faced to this date. How is one to act when the road diverges between slavery and audacity?
The villagers saw themselves at a crossroads. One leads to a life of subservience. Make your children bleed a little each week. And pay your respects to the devil. And another leads to a life of rebellion and sacrifice. Make your children pay in trying to kill the beast. The dead one won’t cause sorrow. The one alive will be a pain forever.
It was getting dark. Victor would be out soon for the kill. Kill he must for he can’t control his urge. His instinct tells him to rip apart a soul from time to time. Drink away the life out of a young one. Leave no stone unturned and be ruthless in his act. He can’t control himself. It’s like a child must have a new toy as soon as he sees it. He will whine like a swine until he lays his hands all over it. The sooner the better. It’s either his way or the highway.
“That’s it. I am laying it all out for you. Let the mob decide our fate. Let us vote for our future. Who’s with me? Raise your hands. I will count and decide. Who’s willing to drop some blood out of his child once a week? Who will share his child with the monster? Who will live and let live? Who will not shy away from the decision of our village? Who will stand united at all odds no matter what the Evil bestows upon us? Raise your hands and be one with me!” Ronald said.
There was a pin drop silence. No one except Randy raised a hand. Ronald was speechless. It was not something he expected. What was going through the minds of the bedeviled? What force was stopping them from protecting their own children? Was he not clear with his words? This was the only hope for them. What keeps them from this?
“Let him eat first. He must be hungry…”
“Sit down, Sir. And tell us all about it.”
“What’s there to tell? He’s a savage, a maniac. A harbinger of death and loss. I had only one choice other than try to kill him,” Ronald replied.
The villagers were curious. They wanted to know everything. Everything that they might have missed in lieu of running for their lives. Everything that their leader had done to keep the monster away.
“The monster will have our children’s blood. But he won’t kill for it. Only if…” Ronald said.
“There is no way he’s getting away with it this time. We will burn him alive,” Tim shouted.
“There is no reason to get excited. Let us hear him out. He’s our leader. Let him lead,” Randy said.
“Lead I must. Especially in these dark times. We have to shed some blood from each child one day a week. Collect it and deliver to the evil. This way he will stop the killings,” Ronald said.
“Ridiculous! No more bloodshed. I won’t take out the life running through my son and my daughter. I say no more,” Tim said.
“Don’t give him what is agreed upon and let him have his way? I say no more,” Randy said.
“Let us ponder over it. Let us sleep over it. Let us not hasten. We have time. The last day of this week will make the devil decide our fate. Till then, we must decide. We must unite. And stand as one. We have suffered the loss of our beloved children. I say no more,” Ronald said.
“Did you see Redmond? You see I…” Yvonne said.
“I know what you want. But you are not getting it,” Ariel said.
“I don’t have time for this. I need my husband and he’s lost,” Yvonne said.
“No, he’s free. Free from your bondage,” Ariel said.
Yvonne didn’t want to get into a tussle with her neighbor. Ariel is always difficult. But now is not the time. Where’s her empathy and rationality? She never had any. Yvonne understood what Ariel’s life was like. A commonplace homemaker with an abusive husband.
Yvonne can’t blame her at all. Ariel doesn’t know about Redmond’s malaise. He might hurt himself or someone else. He might be in trouble. Yvonne was losing her mind. He’s out there God knows where.
She can’t let anyone know about his condition. Otherwise, the neighbors will shun them. They will be ostracized like the Holtons who committed incest. They were made to flee by the society. The society doesn’t tolerate which is not common. The commonality is preferred and adulated. Any kind of deviation is looked down upon. But where does this commonality come from? Who creates it? The society does. The rich and powerful do. All it needs is time and influence. And mankind had a lot of time. Thousands of years.
Redmond had a rare condition of switching his consciousness to another living being in proximity to him. He has been inside his family members without them knowing about this. His mind just switches from his body to another. It started at the age of 16. It was haphazard at first. But he learned to control it and let it happen only once a week for a few hours. Whenever it was supposed to happen he will just lie down on his bed and let his consciousness leave his body. In this way, he avoided accidents to his lifeless body.
Yvonne knew about Redmond before their marriage. And she accepted it. She was madly in love with him. They had two daughters, Alice and Eve. Alice was seven and Eve was five. They kept their father’s secret.
This family had decided to keep this anomaly of Redmond’s a secret. Lest some scientists take him away to experiment. He didn’t want to end up a lab rat. He didn’t want another soul to intrude his life and take whatever was left in it. He would rather spend a near normal life. At least, he will try.
“What’s the matter with you? Are you out of your mind? What makes you stay?” Victor asked.
“I am Ronald, the village head. I want a solution. And I am not leaving until I find it,” Ronald said.
“A brave soul! I love it when they do silly things. You think you can win against the freak of nature. Well, you can’t. Don’t even think so. This is out of your hands and your folks. Better go and console the lost souls.”
“I am not listening to your pep talk. Leave us alone. Leave this village. You have had enough already. Wreak havoc somewhere else.”
“You think you can define my actions. You are belittling me. It’s a good thing no one is around. Otherwise, I would have ripped you apart.”
“What do you want? Tell me. I will do anything. Let us make a pact. I will stick to it.”
“You think it’s funny. Well, go ahead. Drink my blood. Quench your thirst,” Ronald implored.
“Not yours. But your children’s.”
“I have none left. You took the only one I had. Now, what else do you want?”
“I want more. And I will have it.”
“How about I get you the blood from them? We can meet every week at this place and quench your thirst. We will fill a bottle for you by taking out some blood from each child. This will work. We will make it work.”
Victor growled. He nodded and went back inside. The deal was done. The devil agreed. There will be no more killings. No more soul will be harmed. The children are safe. Or so was Ronald led to believe. He sighed at the agreement and wanted to tell the better news to the villagers.